Agonson’s Top Ten: The Princess Bride

It has entered my mind to formulate a list of books which have been meaningful to me, both in the pleasure they offer and also in the effect they had. These are books which stand above.

The Princess Bride

Like with The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, I saw the movie first. Unlike the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, I love the movie. I can’t say how I got a hold of the book; all I remember is that it was my sister’s copy and I first read it sometime in high school. Because of the movie, and my penchant to re-watch favorite movies about a thousand times, I knew the plot fairly well, the character’s passingly, and the spirit of the story like a friend. So it was in reading the book, I saw that it was the exact same story, the same thing as the movie, but where the movie was a grand and fun adventure, the book was a heartfelt exploration of the nature of love.

Over time, I’ve come to consider it a book about another book which I love, and the people of that book.

Knowing both versions of this romantic fantasy, I can’t help but feel that there is hardly a difference between the spirit of the two. The plots diverge, but the themes are the same; The book’s characters have more depth, but the movie’s pacing is great. In all, they are both exemplary instances of their mediums, but the medium of words, of written words, is the finer knife, the more precise—It is in reading the book that I think I’ve come to understand the story: As in the book and the movie, the story is about the story, about a generation inheriting a story and passing on a story, about how a story can save you. It’s my opinion that The Princess Bride is a story about the Bible, about the perfect lover constantly sacrificing and eventually dying for his love, and about how the story of God’s love is true.

Like with Hamlet, I had the story with me since a tender age. I loved it, but didn’t realize it’s depth. I’m sure it’s affected me in many ways, and one of these ways, I think, is how I see the world. This doesn’t come out in the movie, but in the book, every character I can think of is some expression of love, whether good or bad. The prince is prideful, a lover of himself. The count, in a sense, loves evil without pretense. The boy who is told the story, who, as a man, tells it to his son and his grandson, discovers love, first for story, then for his son, and then, in a sense, watching his son’s son living in an atmosphere of love, comes to value love, to love love, to in a sense desire to be in love. I could go on. Like the grand tale of love the Bible expresses, The Princess Bride shows how perfect love can take our broken and twisted and poor loves, and satisfy them. Inigo gets his revenge and Fezzik his family not while under the tyranny of the intellectual hunchback, while working for the Sicilian’s convoluted plot, but by incorporating themselves into the far simpler overarching narrative, by joining with Westley to rescue Buttercup.

The book taught me, in a sense, what Christianity teaches, what love is.

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